The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and majority leader of Parliament Honorable Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has said that the current reluctance of some MPs to get tested goes beyond moral principle and personal judgment, the process ensures the health and safety of all including these alleged MP’s who have defied and are showing reluctance in testing thereby endangering auxiliary staff and visitors such as national service personnel and journalists.
According to him, the fear of ostracism and by extension stigmatization by the general public has fomented the disinterest in the public declaration of status by MP’s and some section of the public, despite their prerogative to confidentiality of medical results.
He said “if the person decides to come out, step out to say I’ve contracted it, and say by God’s grace I have come out triumphant, to demonstrate that it’s real, we must protect ourselves.
I remember the young man who decided to come out and show leadership to tell Ghanaians that they shouldn’t take it for granted and that its real, what ordeal he and his family have to go through is certainly not the best”.
Adding that in extreme cases such as the divulgence of the positive testing to COVID by Honorable Paapa Owusu Ankomah who was used as an example due to the jurisdictional enclave he found himself in, thereby necessitating the overt declaration of his status beyond the shores of the country, Ghana doesn’t tread on that path of disclosure.
The other day, the president speaking cited the case of Paapa Owusu Ankomah, he’s outside the UK representing Ghana’s interest, and do you think if he were to be in Ghana he would have mentioned them?
The difference is that here in Ghana, the culture is different, he’s changed his jurisdiction and there he’s excluded from the rest of us which is why the president had to use that example, but even if he were here in Ghana, the circumstance would have been different, so you see we must contextualize it”.
He emphatically proposed the use of legal means to have hesitant MP’s tested even after various overtures and call by the Speaker of Parliaments to do the mandatory testing have been subtly opposed. However, the minister rationalized that some of these MP’s had concerns of secrecy, stating,
“what is playing out may appear to vindicate the position of most of them...but if one submits and one does not submit, the one who does not submit imperils the life of the one who has submitted...it is important that everybody submits at the same time”.
Despite the obvious rationale of these MP’s, he categorically stated,
“you have rights, but you can’t endanger the lives of others, your rights end at your nose tip... it’s a balancing act, you can’t compel an MP to take a test but you can compel him not to willingly infect others, whatever is lawful will be done to ensure that people submit”.
His comments come after controversies surrounding the alleged positive testing to COVID by two Members of Parliament and thirteen staff flooded the media landscape. In furtherance, he said the voluntary testing of these MP’s will set a precedent and bring self-awareness of their status, thereby protecting other legislators and staff from contracting the virus.
Here in parliament, the total number of staff is in the excess of 1,200, the MP’s, regular staff, the auxiliary staff including service persons and research persons...plus officers that we are working with, we are one family, then if it touches one, it touches the rest of us, which is why we should, all of us submit”.